Ulta Beauty is speaking out amid accusations that its retail employees committed racial profiling in numerous isolated incidents at stores across the country.
As beauty industry watchdog accounts @HereForTheTea2 and @EsteeLaundry brought to light multiple anonymous accounts from Ulta Beauty employees claiming they were encouraged to racially profile customers, a Ulta Beauty spokesperson shared an official response with PEOPLE.
“These accounts are contrary to what we stand for as a company and disappointing to hear. We stand for equality, inclusivity and acceptance and strive to create a space that is welcoming to all. That is why we make it a practice to offer our associates ongoing training on diversity and inclusion,” Ulta Beauty’s spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
“Please know we take this very seriously and always look to understand how we can improve. We will continue to reinforce our policies and values across the company because we never want to hear that a guest has anything less than a great in-store experience,” the spokesperson adds.
Former Ulta Beauty employees messaged @EsteeLaundry and @HereForTheTea2 to share their experiences working at the beauty store, where they were often told to follow people of color around as they shopped.
“I worked at an Ulta store in North Carolina years ago… Yes they have us specifically watch Black women. If a woman of color walked into the store we were all immediately told on our headsets. We HAD to have eyes on them. What was worse is if they walked in with friends. They would make us stare down the entire group,” one anonymous person’s direct message to @EsteeLaundry read.
The former Ulta Beauty employee added: “If you wore sunglasses or had any type of tote bag, immediately we were told by management to ‘watch what they do.’ The employees were carefully checked daily. Any theft they assumed to be from a POC.”
Other employees told @EsteeLaundry and @HereForTheTea2 that they were required to watch a video on racial profiling during training. All members of the company were also required to participate in prejudice training “several months ago.” However, according to the employees, they still noticed profiling afterwards.
“I can name several situations in which perfectly normally behaving POC were targeted,” one person told @HereForTheTea2.
A Ulta Beauty customer shopping in Tinley Park, Illinois also questioned why the store only put a security sensor on the Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Cream Kits in dark shades versus the ones in light shades.
Soon after seeing the accusations, other Instagram commenters began coming forward with their own experience with racial profiling at Ulta Beauty.
“One time the alarm went off while my friends and I were leaving the store. They quickly came to my, black, friend and told her. Literally only her to empty out her belongings. They didn’t ask me or the white girls who were also exiting with us,” one commenter said. “They continued to push her into telling them what she had stolen even threatened to call the cops. Turns out when they looked at the cameras the white girls who they didn’t check stole around 1k in Anastasia products.”